Photo: MTI

CoE commission commends Hungary efforts to offer protection and support to Ukraine refugees

The Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released a report on Hungary on Thursday, commending the country's efforts to offer protection and support to refugees from Ukraine.

ECRI welcomed the positive changes in Hungary since the latest report adopted in 2015.

At the same time, the body said “the human rights of LGBTI persons have significantly deteriorated due to increasingly hostile political discourse and the adoption of a series of restrictive laws.”

The report said: “The Hungarian public discourse has become increasingly xenophobic in recent years, and political speech has taken on highly divisive and antagonistic overtones particularly targeting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Muslims and LGBTI persons.” It called on public figures to take a stand against racist and anti-LGBTI hate speech.

The commission has also raised concerns regarding the high school drop-out rate of Roma children, and “widespread segregation” in schools. Romas are still in serious disadvantage on the labour market and “forced evictions of Roma continue, often without any re-housing solutions being provided,” it said.

Hungary’s Equal Treatment Authority (Egyenlo Banasmod Hatosag) was merged with the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights from January 2021 without the move “having been preceded by appropriate consultations”, ECRI said. “To date, no information campaign for the wider public has been organised to explain the current institutional framework and available remedies,” the report said.

The commission recommended that Hungary launch an independent review of the legislative measures taken during the state of emergency, especially on its impact on LGBTI communities, and the measures’ “compliance with Council of Europe and other human rights standards in the fields of equality and non-discrimination.” The capacity of law enforcement authorities should be boosted in identifying and handling hate speech and hate crime against LGBTI communities, it said.

Further recommendations include a call on authorities to organise “a nation-wide awareness-raising campaign on the avenues of complaints available to victims of discrimination.”

ECRI also urged legislative steps to ensure the legal recognition of a person’s gender “through procedures that are quick, transparent and accessible to all”. All forms of school segregation of Roma children should be ended and a comprehensive strategy should be adopted for the integration of migrants, it said.

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